Diverse Events at Yale F&ES

Diverse Events at Yale F&ES

As a first-year MESc (’17) student and member of the EQUID (Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity) Committee here at Yale F&ES, I can tell you that we’ve had a busy few weeks here on campus. A sample of some recent F&ES diversity-related activities you might have missed:

Reverend Lennox Yearwood and the Hip-Hop Caucus
On Tuesday, September 29, Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer of the Hip Hop Caucus, spoke in Burke Auditorium as part of the F&ES speaker series Diverse Voices: Environmental Leaders on Climate Change. In a rousing sermon that inspired a standing ovation, Reverend Yearwood drew connections for the audience among energy generation from fossil fuels, racist responses to natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, asthma and air pollution in communities of color, and climate change. He emphasized the importance of the high school generation and youth of color to the environmental movement, offered strategies for engaging those youth, and urged immediate action on climate change to prevent more deaths in communities of color and beyond.

Calhoun College, Conservationism, and Legacies of Oppression at Yale
On Thursday, October 8, Adrien Salazar (MEM ’16), Jessica Leung (MEM ’17), and Maclovia Quintana (MESc ’14) led a discussion in Sage Lounge titled “Calhoun College, Conservationism, and Legacies of Oppression at Yale.” The event served as part of a broader conversation on campus sparked last summer by the racist mass murder of nine African Americans at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Calhoun Street in Charleston, South Carolina. In response, Yale law students gathered nearly 1500 signatures on a petition asking that Yale rename Calhoun College, an undergraduate residential college, and delivered it to the Office of the President. The name shared by the street of the murder and the college references John C. Calhoun, an 1804 Yale alumnus and prominent white supremacist who led the pro-slavery faction of the United States Senate as a senator from South Carolina in the mid-nineteenth century.1 A group of about 20 students, faculty, and staff at the discussion shared their perspectives on renaming the college and then went further to address legacies of racism within the conservation movement in the United States2,3 and at F&ES.

Dr. Dorceta Taylor and Diversity in the United States Environmental Movement
The conversation continued that evening in the next installment of the Diverse Voices series, as Dr. Dorceta Taylor (MFS ‘85, PhD ’91) spoke in Burke Auditorium on diversity in the United States environmental movement. Dr. Taylor currently serves as James E. Crowfoot Collegiate Professor of Environmental Justice and Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and the Environment, and she has been a leader and scholar of the environmental justice movement for over 25 years. She holds five degrees from Yale, including dual doctoral degrees from the Yale Department of Sociology and Yale F&ES, and was the first Black woman to receive a doctorate from F&ES. Last year she published a landmark report widely cited in the media titled The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Mainstream NGOs, Foundations, and Government Agencies. Among her findings, Dr. Taylor discovered that although ethnic minorities made up 37.8% of the United States population in 2014,4 they filled less than 16% of the board and staff positions and less than 12% of the leadership roles in all three types of environmental institutions she studied.5 She concluded her talk with a roadmap for increasing diversity at all ranks in the environmental movement. In the question-and-answer session afterward, Dr. Taylor shared her own experiences in academia and the environmental movement and challenged Yale F&ES to be part of the solution by actively recruiting more students and faculty of color.

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Yours in solidarity,

Katherine Wolf, MESc ’17

1See Irving H. Bartlett, John C. Calhoun: A Biography (New York: Norton, 1994).
2Jebediah Purdy, Environmentalism’s Racist History, The New Yorker, August 13, 2015, http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/environmentalisms-racist-history.
3Charles Wohlforth, Conservation and Eugenics, Orion Magazine, June 18, 2010, https://orionmagazine.org/article/conservation-and-eugenics/.
4Sandra L. Colby and Jennifer M. Ortman, Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060, Current Population Reports, P25-1143, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC, 2014, https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2015/demo/p25-1143.pdf.
5Dorceta E. Taylor, The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Mainstream NGOs, Foundations and Government Agencies, Green 2.0 Working Group, 2014, http://diversegreen.org/report/.